Family Law Hub

Appeals

Latest updates

  • The father appealed concerning three aspects of a case management order made pursuant to Children Act 1989 proceedings. He wished to enforce/vary a child arrangements order, and contended that the judge had erred in refusing to order a fact-finding hearing to investigate his allegations of parental alienation, limiting the scope of the local authority's section 7 report, and refusing to appoint a Children's Guardian under FPR 16.4. The mother's position was that the father's application was part of a long-running campaign of meritless court applications aimed at undermining the current arrangements. Williams J allowed the appeal but only to a limited extent in respect of the remit of the section 7 report. The application would be remitted to the Central Family Court with a direction that an addendum section 7 report should be provided by Islington Children's Services regarding the son's expressed wishes in the light of the contact notes. In respect of all other grounds the appeal was refused. Williams J noted that the case illustrated the problems caused by the failure of parties and their advocates to focus on the real issues which the court had to grapple with at a time-limited FHDRA. Position statements which far exceeded the permitted length and did not clearly and succinctly identify the main issues to be determined were unhelpful. Judgment, 02/05/2021, free
  • The Court of Appeal (the President of the Family Division, King LJ and Holroyde LJ) was concerned with four appeals in ongoing Children Act 1989 proceedings involving allegations of domestic abuse by one parent against the other. The decisions on the appeals, the court explained, turned on long-established principles of fairness or the ordinary approach to judicial fact-finding, and none purported to establish new law, or to establish any legally binding precedent. However, the court noted, at least 40% of private law children cases now involved allegations of domestic abuse, about 22,000 cases each year, and so the court took the opportunity to give more general guidance about such matters, such as the proper approach to deciding whether a fact-finding hearing was necessary, and whether, where domestic abuse was alleged in proceedings affecting the welfare of children, the focus should in some cases be on a pattern of behaviour rather than specific incidents. It noted that there had been effective unanimity in submissions to the court that the value of Scott Schedules in domestic abuse cases had declined to the extent that they were now a potential barrier to fairness and good process, rather than an aid. Reducing the focus to a limited number of events created the risk of the court losing the vantage point needed to consider whether there had been an overall pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. The appeals in Re B-B and Re T were allowed, and the matters remitted to different judges. The appeal in Re H-N was allowed and the matter was remitted to the Designated Family Judge at the Central Family Court for further case management. The appeal in Re H was dismissed. Judgment, 31/03/2021, free
  • The father appealed against a decision to set aside a return order and to dismiss his application for summary return. The father was an Italian national, the mother a British national, and shortly after their son was born in England they moved to Italy. In 2019, when the child was 10, the mother brought him to England and they did not return. The judge had found that the evidence of the child's wishes and feelings amounted to "a fundamental change of circumstances" and "a fundamental change to the basis on which the previous order was made". In Hayden J's view, although the judge had clearly identified a significant and sustained degree of pressure placed on the child by his mother, he did not seem to have considered how this would have compromised the authenticity of the child's expressed views. The test as to whether there had been a 'fundamental change of circumstances' had to be set high. The mother's application was a clear example of an attempt to reargue a case which had already been comprehensively determined. Asplin and Moylan LJJ agreed. The appeal would be allowed and an order made for the child's return to Italy. The child would not be added as a party to proceedings; to do so would only serve to heighten the conflict that he had struggled to avoid. Judgment, 04/03/2021, free
  • The Court of Appeal considered how a court should assess reasonable and immediate needs when faced with an application for maintenance pending suit. News, 14/01/2021, free
  • An application by the former husband for permission to appeal out of time against the order for him to pay to the wife a lump sum of £3.09m, as well as periodical payments of £4,750 per calendar month and other amounts. The husband argued that he could not afford to meet the terms of the order, and that the judge had taken half the value of the husband’s shareholdings in two private companies with no evidence-based indication as to how the husband would be able to raise the required lump sum. The wife's position was that the appeal was not just out of time, but hopelessly so, and that the evidence at trial had indicated that the husband had been planning to sell his business interests in order to satisfy the lump sum payment, rather than relying upon dividends. In Mr Recorder Salter's judgment, the delay here was "serious and lacking in any good explanation". He had no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that he was unable to grant relief from sanctions and that accordingly the application for permission to appeal had to be dismissed. Judgment, 21/11/2020, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

  • Richard Bates from 29 Bedford Row explains the appeal process. Webcast, 26/09/2014, members only

Copyright 

Copyright in the original legal material published on the Family Law Hub is vested in Mills & Reeve LLP (as per date of publication shown on screen) unless indicated otherwise.

Disclaimer

The Family Law Hub website relates to the legal position in England Wales and all of the material within it has been prepared with the aim of providing key information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While Mills & Reeve LLP aims to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. You therefore acknowledge and agree that Mills & Reeve LLP and its members and employees accept no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of our website except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

Bookmark this item